A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier

Magic, sarcastic humor, a special sense of style and the most incredible Parisian stories. On the birthday of the great couturier, I once again want to say — we will never, ever forget you…

It was snowing during the last Chanel couture show in Paris. The Grand Palais, which had been transformed into an Italian Villa for the duration of the show, seemed to fit into this role uneasily — snowflakes fell on the tropical garden planted along the rows of spectators, through the leaky roof of the Palace.


“This is the last show in the Grand Palais,” they said in the crowd, ” they are closing for reconstruction.” It turned out that this show was also Lagerfeld’s last. When Virginie Viard came out alone to take her bow, and the audience announced in French that the designer was ill, the Grand Palais seemed even colder. A month passed, and Lagerfeld was gone. But it seems that the whole fashion world still can not believe it.

A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier (photo 3)


I’m ashamed to say, but in my 13 years in the industry, I’ve never had any contact with him. Each time, the possibility eluded me, like the meaning of Rilke’s favorite designer’s poems. In what stories will Karl Lagerfeld live forever for me? We all know the beacons of his biography — his work at Fendi, Chloé and Chanel, the cartoon brand Karl Lagerfeld. Friendship-enmity with Yves Saint Laurent; Warhol Polaroids from the Factory; 7L bookshop on the Rue de Lille; monochrome photos and sketches that come to life right on paper. We know his “carlisms” — the one about the ugliness of Russian men, once got into all the Russian yellow Newspapers and on television.

A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier (photo 5)

He loved his cat, Choupette, so much that it is rumored that he left her a portion of his fortune. And he never complained about the new crazy display schedule, while everyone else just whined — because he invented it! And he re – “invented” the myth of Coco Chanel. When Lagerfeld took the helm of the brand in 1983, no one remembered Camellia, or Boy Capel, or the universe made up of signs of the zodiac, and other, only Coco understood symbols. He re-built her biography, turned Chanel from a forgotten Parisian House into a fashion giant. Well, his trademark image — gray hair pulled back in a ponytail, dark as a bandit’s, glasses, leather gloves, black, white, white, black — is replicated everywhere: from Karl Lagerfeld accessories to chocolate wrappers. Relatively recently, he had grown a beard — and immediately seemed to understand more. But remember him, most likely will be young and lively, not with a cane, but with a fan.

A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier (photo 7)

But all these descriptions are not the moments in which he will remain alive for me personally. For the first time in my memory, Lagerfeld turned from a “picture” to a “person” when Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks ‘ wife, approached him at a party about twelve years ago after all the couture shows. She told him: “What an amazing collection! What was your inspiration?» Rita was inexperienced and reckless. Lagerfeld gave her a killer look, turned to his companions and said: “This one is boring. Do you think that soon aliens will take over the Earth?» History, of course, has reached these pages like ancient bas-reliefs with battered faces and hands.

A colleague pulled a black bag of white Camellia from under the counter: “Your friend Carl came to give you a present.” There was a 2.55 bag in the bag

Rita Wilson may actually be both keira Knightley and the singer Bjork. It doesn’t matter. The main thing is that the aliens that interested Lagerfeld, as well as me, are much stronger than the outdated collection and fashion trends. “Is this a normal designer who doesn’t like to talk about fashion,” I thought then. “The past fell to dust for him, and only the future made sense,” I think now.

A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier (photo 11)A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier (photo 12)

Since then, meeting him has been a big dream of mine. But the orbits still didn’t intersect. Once I walked for two hours through the shabby corridors of Atelier Lesage, which seemed to me then an exact copy of the file of the book chamber on “Kropotkinskaya” — with the only difference that the Paris” branch ” was filled from floor to ceiling with samples of embroidery, voluminous flowers, lace, beads, crystals. “This Russian hasn’t seen everything yet? I could hear the embroidery girls whispering behind me. — Our most important guest is coming, and she’s still here!”» I was prepared to stay there as long as it took to see Carl. Finally, I was politely escorted to the back entrance, where I carefully asked if I could wait for Lagerfeld. “What makes you think it’s Carl? We are waiting for Princess Rania.” And they must have cheated.

A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier (photo 14)A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier (photo 15)

Then there was the sumptuous Chanel dinner, for which the entire Palais de Tokyo was filmed, where I drank champagne with everyone from Vanessa Paradis to Audrey Tautou, and was photographed with Gaspard Houlliel. And Karl never came!

For me, Paris will always breathe its stories. I walk past Cafe de Flore, which has been drowned by tourists, and imagine Valentino Garavani and Karl Lagerfeld, who are young and for some reason always Smoking, in their place. In his life in General, there have always been cafes only on the Left Bank, and the necessary household stores — on the Right. He bought flowers at the Faubourg Saint-honoré, glasses at the opticians opposite the Westin hotel, and books at Galignani in Rivoli. (Just don’t think I’m a Stalker!) My friend Veronika worked there, and she and Karl spent hours discussing books – from Nietzsche (Lagerfeld worked on his publications as an editor in Germany) to Tolstoy. He had a high opinion of booksellers, remembered them all by name, and occasionally mentioned them in interviews. Veronica would get him rare editions of Mallarme or Aragon as a token of gratitude. One day when she came to work, a colleague pulled out a huge black bag of white Camellia from under the counter: “Your friend came by and brought you a present.” The bag contained a Chanel 2.55 bag.

A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier (photo 17)

A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier (photo 18)

On the day of his death, everyone wrote about what kind of person he was — kind and sympathetic. He easily invited young models to spend the night in Paris when they had nowhere to go. Among them were Naomi, Linda, and Carolyn Murphy. He was the first person to believe in Helena Christensen, and he called her into his advertising campaign. Everyone remembered another of his traits — Karl Lagerfeld could talk endlessly. Helena told me that they could talk all night — about books, childhood, food, architecture, writers, nature, wine. Interior designer Vincent darret claimed that Karl commented on every house in Paris that he passed or drove by in his car. Haider Ackermann is remembered as Lagerfeld, whispering, gossiping in his ear at parties. Few people suspected this during his lifetime, but now everyone knows.

A Legend, Karl! Our stories about the great couturier (photo 20)

On the fifth of October last year, my friends and I went to a party dedicated to the launch of the Karl Lagerfeld x Kaia Gerber collection. After the second glass, I got lost in the corridors and on the stairs, I ran out into the hall and ran into Karl Lagerfeld nose to nose! I had just managed to mumble “Bonne nuit,” not in greeting, but as if to say good night, when I was pushed back by the guards. The revelation didn’t happen, but I said goodbye. I won’t see you again.

Tsvetaeva once said that if Pushkin had not been killed, he would have lived forever. There are some people who just can’t leave, and Lagerfeld is one of them. Let us, as suggested by Helena Christensen, think that he was abducted by aliens — and they will definitely not bring such a person back.


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